Bad Choice: A Gay Advocacy Group Adopts Terrorist Tactics
The Ethics Scoreboard usually confines itself to ethical considerations directly connected to events, people and issues in the United States. This is less the result of national bias than it is because there isn't enough time or space to cover this country's ethics thoroughly, much less the ethical happenings elsewhere.
Occasionally, however, a story abroad can't be ignored, and so it is with the decision of South Africa's Gay and Lesbian Alliance to intentionally risk contaminating the country's blood supply in order to protest the South African National Blood Service's (SANBS) policy of not accepting blood donations from gay men. Angry because the Blood Service would not rephrase its screening questionnaire in terms acceptable to the GLA, the organization asked its 100,000 plus membership to donate blood but to lie about their true sexual orientation. According to GLA, hundreds of gay men did exactly that, and approximately 65% of them may have been HIV positive.
Astoundingly, the GLA put out a statement admitting that its actions were "irresponsible" and "unethical," but that it had no choice after the blood service rejected its demands. Scoreboard readers will find "I have no choice" listed in the "Tools" section under "Rationalizations," the lies we tell ourselves to justify unethical conduct. It is one of the favorite rationalizations of terrorists, which is of course what the GLA's actions amount to: risking the health of innocent people to punish those with whom it disagrees. In a statement devoid of any ethical consciousness whatsoever, the GLA's media director announced that the infected blood" is now the SANBS's responsibility." He then gave the blood service until Thursday to change the wording of the offensive question, or otherwise "people living with Aids will be welcomed in joining our blood donation campaign."
If the blood supply has indeed been contaminated by the GLA's admittedly unethical and irresponsible act, it is NOT the SANBS's responsibility. This is also familiar terrorist reasoning: "If the hostages die, it is your responsibility." The GLA is attempting to hold a nation's blood supply hostage, putting lives in danger over a disagreement about words. The SANBS's responsibility now is to categorically reject the GLA's demands and deadline, do whatever is necessary to purify the supply, and encourage legal action against the organization and any of its members who participated in its potentially deadly protest.
Laudably, other gay advocacy groups have condemned the GLA, but mere
disapproval cannot swerve an organization that can claim that it has no
choice but to direct its members to lie and place others in danger. There
is a phrase for individuals and organizations that believe they "have
no choice" other than to threaten, endanger, and hurt innocent people:
"menaces to society." Society has no choice but to do whatever it takes
to stop them, including arrest, trial, and imprisonment.